East Timor: Independent group to analyse power plants sold by China

20 March 2009

Dili, East Timor, 20 March – The Prime Minister of East Timor said Monday in parliament that the government planned to nominate an independent body to analyse the environmental impact and carry out a technological evaluation of the country’s three second-hand power plants acquired from China.

José Ramos-Horta said it was necessary to address the concerns raised by environmental groups and non-governmental organisations as well as to analyse the US$400 million deal with China for the acquisition of the power plants.

Environmental groups and NGOs as well as opposition party Fretilin, have criticised the acquisition of the power plants and charged that there were irregularities in the contracts signed with state Chinese company, Chinese Nuclear Industry 22nd Construction Company.

Arguing that under the terms of the contract East Timor is obliged to import heavy oil for at least three decades in order to feed the plants, which use technology that is difficult to control and which has been abandoned in many countries due to environmental issues.

La’o Hamutuk, a Dili-basedNGO, said that the power plants, which were in operation for over 20 years in China, will cause acid rain, pollute water, produce solid toxic waste and release pollution into the atmosphere.

The contract signed in 2008 with China Nuclear Industry 22nd Construction Company (CNI22) outlines construction of two heavy fuel power plants in the north of East Timor with a capacity of 120 megawatts and one in the south of the country with a capacity of 60 megawatts, the expansion of the electricity grid with 750 kilometres of new high voltage cables and construction of 10 electricity sub-stations. (macauhub)